An Open Letter To My 16-Year-Old Self

Hey you,

Wow! Look at you!

Have you noticed that you’re changing? You are. You’ve stopped sagging your trousers.

You’re now 16 going on 17 which means you, in many ways, are a grown woman. You have a whole life ahead of you so here are some things I want you to know.

As I am writing this letter, you still haven’t fully figured out how your life will turn out so let’s make a pact. Come back to re-read this letter a year from now and update me on how you are doing. I truly hope that by that time, you would have found a path that you are proud of.

I wish I could meet you right now. It kills me that you have no idea how much power you have. I need to tell you how beautiful and intelligent you are and let you know you don’t need any other person’s validation.

Stop comparing your physical appearance to other girls. We still haven’t learned how to do our makeup but you will become an incredibly attractive, sexy woman who never longs for company. Be yourself, and people—both men and women—will be drawn to you.

Sweetheart, you and I have been on quite a journey these past few years. I know how you feel right now and how much pressure you think you’re under, and let me just tell you, it doesn’t get lighter. However, I can assure you that we get better at dealing with it.

Have you had your first depressive episode yet? Oh, you don’t know what it means? Don’t worry, you’ll find out soon. You will survive it. Your strength, stubbornness, and sense of humor will lift you out of that sadness. 

Have you written your first poem yet? No? You will write many of them when you get depressed for the first time, and I need you to keep that book of poems safe because I can’t find it anymore.

Baby girl, I think you’ve stopped putting your crush’s name and yours in the love calculator, but if you haven’t, I’m sure you will soon realize it’s a scam. You’re too young to be looking for love right now anyway.

I really wish I could sit down and talk to you about these things but I guess there are some things you just have to learn the hard way. 

I have some bad news for you: You know that boy you’re talking to at the moment? Well… You break up and you move on. I know it doesn’t feel like it now; it feels raw and painful and you think your heart can’t ache more than that. To be completely honest with you, it’s not going to hurt for a long time. You move on fast by pouring your energy into your studies and finishing with the best grades in your class.

That’s not the heartbreak that changes you though. The one that wrecks you comes after that and you’ll try and deal with the pain in some harmful ways. Word to the wise: don’t. It’s not worth the extra pain and years of regret. If you’re patient enough, the pain just sort of melts away after a while.

You will save yourself a lot of heartaches if you learn two very important lessons early so listen very carefully: Respect yourself and trust God. It’s that simple. You will get carried away with the attention you get from the wrong people and struggle with saying no and standing by it. As a result of this, you’ll develop a problem with needing to be in control. It’s going to come later and it’s going to make you feel anxious to the point where you make yourself sick. It will take you about 9 years to figure this one out but I hate to break it to you: You are not always in control. God is, and he’s way better at it than you, so let go. 

No, my love, you’re not a lawyer. We now run a business. Crazy, right?

You and I have pushed ourselves to do different things over the years. We have gotten out of our comfort zone and adapted to being alone.

Ode, mum doesn’t hate you. She is just trying to help you avoid making the same mistakes she did so instead of thinking you know it all, just shut up and listen to her.

I know you want to do well, achieve good grades and you want people to like you – so you stress, you overthink, you worry, you put too much pressure on yourself… Oh my goodness, please slow down.

I have seen you get almost everything you want, and also seen you lose practically everything.

I’ve watched you fall and get back up so many times I’m convinced you will survive anything if you’ll just let yourself breathe and take it one day at a time.

I’m really sorry for all the times I let your head hang low, and for all the times I let you win and beat yourself up. I left you floundering on your own, to rely on love and encouragement and strength from others–from strangers–when it was I who should have held you up.

A few years from now, you’ll be writing an open letter to yourself and I need you to know that even though I was not strong enough to encourage, support, and appreciate you then, I am now. So I’ll be here for you every step of the way.

Oh, and you won’t regret getting that tattoo. Don’t listen to anyone who says you will.

 

Love,

Your adult self.

 

There you have it – An open letter to my 16-year-old self.

If you were to write a letter to your younger self, what would you tell her/him? Feel free to let me know in the comments.

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5 Responses

  1. I would tell her to never think it can’t be her in the shoes of the person she’s talking to…

    No matter how empathetic one is, it can be very hard to really understand someone else.

    Thanks for sharing your letter. I wish I was able to render you more help that would’ve made an impact.

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